“I was invited to participate in a residency- and exhibition series at the International Artists Studio Program in Stockholm (IASPIS), Sweden. The curators created a series titled “Blind Date”, in which they would pair artists who didn't know each other and were unfamiliar with the other's work. While I was curious about the concept, I also questioned the idea of putting artists together like guinea pigs in a cage to be watched from outside. Following my rebellious streak, I decided to subvert the premise of the series. Instead of allowing myself to be paired with another artist, I stayed home and sent a scientist in my place.This intervention, in a sense, made it a blind date for all of us.” - Iris Häeussler
REPLA©E was conceived as a performance within a performance. After accepting the invitation to participate in the IASPIS exhibition “Blind Date,” Häeussler created an experiment that would bring an unexpected twist to the show by mischievously assuming the identity of an ‘uninvited’ participant— a biochemist named Dr. Boris Steipe. Echoing previous work in which Häeussler slips into the minds and worlds of deeply researched fictitious characters, many of whom reveal obsessive tendencies, the artist here again undertakes a transformative process in which she completely relinquishes herself to the control of her ‘replacement’ character. Dr. Steipe traveled to Stockholm to pursue his own research on semantic and microbiological relationships. During a two week period, he conducted his scientific experiments from a studio space housed in the Royal Academy of Art, seemingly aware of the out-of-place position he occupied within the distinct culture and atmosphere of an Art institution. He worked diligently on oversized chalkboards displayed in his studio/laboratory to render his observations and musings visible to visitors who came by. During the exhibition’s closing event, Dr. Steipe presented his results in a public lecture, juxtaposed with curator Maria Lindberg's contribution of an empty chair and a video titled “of Waiting-for-Something-Else”. Häeussler’s replacement experiment raised questions about how the perceived authenticity of our professional activities and identities (as artist, curator, scientist) are in many ways defined by and mediated through the contexts in which we perform our work. The aesthetics of conceptual art, and the rules of contemporary art exhibition practice, are themselves brought under critical observation when contrasted by conditions of scientific experimentation. REPLA©E troubled these two disciplinary realms by revealing both the artifice of institutional boundaries, and the powerful ways in which we are shaped by them.